Nothing soft about it.
(CBS News) — New benchmarks approved by the Florida State Board of Education to help close the racial achievement gap has community leaders worried about stereotyping.
The Sunshine State’s BOE set the guidelines for K-12 students in math and reading Tuesday. While all students face the same finish line in the future, a lower percentage of Hispanics and blacks are expected to be at or above grade level in reading or writing than whites and Asians in five years.
“It’s, what do they say? ‘Soft bigotry of low expectations,” said Hilary Shelton, Washington Bureau director of the NAACP, referring to a phrase coined by former President George W. Bush several years ago. “They’re really letting the educators off the hook playing it this way. We have to challenge our educators to meet the standards of every child.”
Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart called the criticism over the new guidelines a “growing misconception” about a plan that will help Florida achieve a “world class education system” with all students proficient in reading and math.
By 2018, the Florida BOE aims to have 74 percent of African-American grade school students at or above grade level in reading.
Eighty-one percent of Hispanic students are expected to achieve the same goal by 2018. The same goes for 82 percent of American Indian students, 88 percent of white students and 90 percent of Asian students. For the economically disadvantaged and English language learners, it’s 72 percent; for students with disabilities, it’s 78 percent.